Dear Bloomfield Hills Schools Families,
Given the winter weather we've experienced the past few school years, I thought it might be helpful to remind you of the process by which I make school closing decisions.
To minimize disruption to the educational process, the goal is always to keep school in session unless road conditions, severe cold or other weather conditions pose a significant risk to student safety. In the 2013-2014 winter, record snowfalls and extended bitter cold (beyond -25 degrees) reacted with one another (e.g. salt not working), making actual conditions even tougher to accurately predict. In the 2014-2015 winter, we faced some additional days that did not nearly reach the -25 and beyond mark, but also a few that did.
However, just as there is no defined depth of snow accumulation that indicates closure (because of the overall effect of wind, ice, temperature, humidity and other factors), likewise, there is no exact temperature that indicates closure. Typically, when wind chills head into the -22 and below range, we consider school cancellation because frostbite can set in within approximately 30 minutes. If the road conditions are not favorable, bus delays may push bus stop wait times into the 30 minute range, posing a risk to our students. For that reason, a designated member of my administration will often drive district roads between 3:00 and 4:30 a.m. and report to me findings and recommendations that help inform my decision. I also consult with weather authorities and other area superintendents, but ultimately I have to make a decision based on what I feel is in the best interest of Bloomfield Hills students.
Whenever possible, I try to provide advance notice of school cancellation so that parents can make alternate plans. Yet, this has to be balanced with waiting as long as possible to make sure the weather stays true to the forecast. Of course, no forecast is perfect, and sometimes the temperatures and snowfall amounts vary, which supports waiting until 4:30 am to make the decision (despite the difficulty we know this poses to families who have less time to make alternate arrangements). There is no way to be perfect with this. I can only make the best possible decision in real time with the best available information.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. Michigan winters are never predictable or easy to navigate, but we will do our very best to keep both learning and safety as our top priorities.